Last night we saw the ‘high risk obstetrics team’, or part of it. Five doctors examined me and asked another 50 or so questions, checked all manner of things on the Doppler scan and gave me the odds again. There was a tiny glimmer of good news – there is plenty of amniotic fluid and you are healthy and beautiful. And there was bad news – they just can’t comprehend how you haven’t arrived yet, and still think it will happen any minute. I don’t know if I mentioned, I have spent the last 72 hours at a slight angle lying flat in bed – feet in the air, head slightly lowered, (although the nurses have been coming in to adjust the height of the head rest continually so the blood doesn’t rush to my head), with toilet and shower privileges. That means I am only allowed to move if I need to go to the bathroom and once a day for a shower. They suggested I hold on as long as I can to go to the bathroom to prevent too much movement.
Well here in the best high risk obstetric hospital, maybe in the country, they are completely up to date with the relevant research and tell me quite bluntly that there is no evidence that bed rest prevents early labour. So while my specific problem hasn’t been thoroughly researched, (as its very rare), they are doubtful that it will actually help. The one and only thing I can do for you is nothing, and even that probably won’t do any good.
Given the research is incomplete when it comes to my condition, and knowing that gravity plays a part, I’ve decided to stay put, (though at some point the risk of stroke will become more of a threat to both of us than premature labour). It’s literally all I can do for you.
Last night after all the doctors had gone and I had finally been able to have some dinner, (which left a lot to be desired), the midwives called an orderly to roll me into my permanent room away from delivery. Its become something of a badge of honour, being wheeled into maternity and back out again – you beat the odds yet again and I’m afraid to say I relish the way you are defying doctor’s predictions. I feel like I already know you, and now that we are in our new home – which I am certain it will be for a while to come – it’s just you and me together. Against the whole god damned world if needs be.
We were wheeled into a double room and my heart sank a little. I haven’t really had time to process what’s happened since Friday and I wanted to be alone for the first time in almost three days. I think I am empty. All I have to remind me that I’m not is the kicks you give me – each one is a precious reminder that there is life inside, at least for now. By now it was after 11 and I longed for silence.
Sitting on the bed was a young girl, very young, being cradled by her very young boyfriend and sobbing. The orderly drew the curtain to give them some privacy, but it was clear they were both in great distress. I tried to fall asleep to the sound of their sobbing and said a silent prayer for you. We’ve never been a religious family but for some reason since that ambulance ride I have started to feel a presence following us. Maybe I’m starting to lose my mind. I’m definitely losing perspective.
A kindly midwife came in and told the couple that the young boy would have to leave. They just don’t have the bed for him and he shouldn’t be in a maternity ward, especially in a room that isn’t private. The girl was clearly in pain, and yelled at the midwife “No. No no no no!” The boy told her that his girlfriend should have been discharged by now, and she just wants to go home. The nurse asked if they have anyone to pick them up as she is still a minor. He said no and the nurse left.
She returned a few minutes later and said they could just for tonight use the emergency spare room. And away they went. I hope today they both feel better, though I doubt it.
And now, finally, we are alone. I’ve sung to you – Sweet Child of Mine – and we talked. Well, I talked. I told you to hold on as long as you can. I begged you to stay. These moments with you may be the only ones I ever know, and I am tired of lying here waiting for you to pass peacefully into the ether. So I talked to the voice in the back of my mind that keeps reminding me everything will be ok. It’s getting louder and louder and I’m starting to really believe it.
So tomorrow another neonatologist is coming in just to make sure we know the stats and to ask us a question I don’t have the answer to. If we make it to 24 weeks what happens to you becomes our decision, not the doctors. The outcomes at 24 weeks are still pretty dire, but if you make it to 26 weeks you will have a much better chance. So between 24 and 26 weeks we need to tell the neonatologist whether or not we will resuscitate you. I feel as though I am betraying you even writing that down. You are fighting so hard. You deserve the chance – but more than anything, I don’t want you to be born seriously ill or debilitated. I have my reasons, I promise, and I don’t know if I can watch you withering and profoundly disabled – unable to sit or eat. I’m not sure I am strong enough. So at the moment, I’m just listening to the voice.
Later today Aunty Shell bought me in some white lilies. You’re going to be okay. It’s a huge day tomorrow filled with poking and prodding and blue scrubs. We’d better at least try to sleep.
Today for the first time you cried when I left you at pre school. Your teacher tells me you have developed a nice little group of girls around you – and that you tend to be the bossy one. I’m not surprised, it’s the same at home. The littlest, the loudest, the one with the most spirit.
It’s hard to leave you there. But I know how tough you are and I know you will cope. It’s funny how different things are with a preemie. There’s this mix of strength and vulnerability that seems to make you invincible. At least I hope so. I have a feeling I will spend the rest of my life letting you go so you can grow into something amazing. It’s bittersweet.